I have been spending the last two weeks at Vaidyagrama hospital in rural Coimbatore in South India. I write below about my experiences. Please consider this place for your next vacation. The appropriate way to describe life at Vaidyagrama is: simple living and high thinking.
The clientele is 60% international. A good number of foreigners are returning patients. I got here with my wife and two toddler kids two weeks ago. The hospital can accommodate 24 patients at a time. It is located 25 kms from city, in the midst of plaintain and coconut farms. Each block has four double rooms. Each patient family is given a double room. the rooms are very well ventilated, with no need for airconditioning. There is a plenty of air and light in the rooms and the verendas outside.
The hospital is about 60% covered with greenery, wherein they maintain lots of medicinal herbs. I choose Ayurveda than modern medicine (Allopathy) as the only solution proposed by modern medicine for my ailment was a serious surgery that may have to be repeated every 10 years. The condition was caused by antibiotics used to cure another ailment. When I was making a choice between an Ayurvedic doctor in Bombay versus Vaidyagrama, I choose Vaidyagrama as I had a hunch that it offers a somewhat hands-on atmosphere. it turned out that I had made a right decision in coming to Vaidyagrama.
The doctors are very humble and down to earth with a focus on helping the patients. For example, one of the doctors was quite eager and happy to do patient room housekeeping duties which get pushed to "class 4" employees in regular hospitals. Another doctor helped me clean up when my son spilled a liquid on the floor. I somehow felt a level of humility and genuineness in the doctors.
The day starts with an hour of prayer at 6.15am. They serve breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. They emphasize on eating sattvic food and eating less. I lost 15 pounds over 15 days. But, I lost them in a healthy way. Currently, due to the nature of the treatment, I am being given only rice broth. There is no spice in food. Still, the food tastes good provided you eat it hot. The doctors insists on eating food within 3 hours of preparation. They do not allow patient to eat otherwise. I was kicked as that is what the Gita says on satvic food: one shall eat food in three hours of preparation.
At 1.30pm they hold a 30 minute yoga nidra session - essentially relieving all our body of stress and mind of though without sleeping. This is very effective in resting your mind and body. At 2.15pm, they hold an hour long discussion session on Ayurveda, spirituality, meditation, etc. I have found them very valuable in getting an overview of Ayurveda. This place is unique in the sense that they are sharing knowledge freely as opposed to keeping it close to one's chest. Each thing they say, they quote a Sanskrit sloka. It gives me confidence that they are following time tested practice as opposed to making up things on the fly.
When I asked the head doctor whether Ayurveda does work, he said yes and cited a paralytic patient who came on wheel chair walked back after a few weeks. I was surprised to see that Ayurveda has a cure for wide variety diseases modern medicine is struggling with: Spondylytis, Psoriasis, mental retardation, digestion problems, Asthma etc. (Interestingly Srimad Bhagavatam talks of curing mental retardation using Om meditation --- "divyanadam" --- I do not know how to learn more about it). The doctors have been able to manage cancer too; one of the patients has cancer for four years that they manage without surgery, chemo, radiation etc.
My (extended and near) family is suffering from a large number of different ailments with modern medicine showing little to offer. Somehow, my family is busy with day to day issues preventing them from thinking holistically and trying Ayurveda. Presumably that is due to the difficulty of weeding out the quacks in Ayurveda. In the evening they hold an audio visual information session at 5pm for an hour. Then, an hour of prayers followed by Bhajans. Dinner is served at 7.30pm.
There is wired internet in rooms. No television. Spotty mobile connectivity. Wifi is available in office for three hours a day.
The environmental ethos of the place are outstanding. They do not use any plastic. The food is gotten in stainless steel hot packs. Patents are advised only to drink hot water that is served in stainless steel flasks. No plastic ware for cutlery.
Typically, patients are given a medical oil application and massage for an hour everyday. These massages themselves are very relaxing and rejuvenating. I hope I massage myself when I am back home. My kids are having a ball of time with all the greenery around us. They play with the banana trees and coconut trees. I am able to show them all the plants I knew about. I even managed to show them a trick to make coconut leaves fly. I showed them coconut tree things being used to light a chulha to cook food. I had been wanting to let my kids play with mud to improve their immunity. But weather in New Jersey was not permitting. Here I managed to do that.
Some of the best things I treasure in my life was idling off in the trees in my grandfather's places. I am getting a chance those pleasures to my kids.
Vaidyagrama is being transited by highly intelligent people.I met an American who is trying to improve agriculture at grass roots in Karnataka. Some Englishwoman (of transcendental meditation) gave me some tips to improving my meditation. My own spiritual master will be here in April; he is probably among the top ten intelligent people in this planet.
In summary, I am having a good time in Vaidyagrama. It is simple living and high thinking.
PS: Starting September 2014, they are establishing a similar center in Ujjain, India.